Cognitive Science of Religion: Looking Back, Looking Forward


Justin L. Barrett, Centre for Anthropology & Mind, Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology, 64 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PN, UK. E-mail:


The cognitive science of religion (CSR) arose out of attempts to “science up” religious studies and the anthropology of religion without eliminating interpretive approaches. While maintaining this historical orientation, CSR holds promise to help bridge to other areas within the scientific study of religion. Particularly fruitful areas of future collaboration and complementary study are evolutionary studies of religion, psychology of religion, sociology of religion, and archeology of religion. In response to an invitation to explore the potential of CSR for the 50th anniversary of this journal, I briefly summarize CSR's history and current state and then offer exemplary future directions that might bring CSR into fruitful connection with other areas in the greater scientific study of religion.